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How Much Should I Socialize?

Discussion in 'Pituophis (Pines, Bulls, Gophers)' started by YellowOctopus, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. YellowOctopus

    YellowOctopus Elite Member

    So today, I got home (I had like an hour of free time!!!!) and saw Hyperion, my Sonoran gopher snake, was out. I thought I'd carry him around while I made a salad for Wally (the bearded dragon), so I went in even though he started rattling his tail when I walked up. He started puffing as soon as the lid was off, but I've occasionally gotten him to calm down from that point so I took it slow and gradual.

    Anyways, I got myself bitten. Teensy little mark, but he drew blood this time and it feels pretty deep. 100% my fault for pushing him.

    My question is this: How much can Pituophis be socialized? Does anyone have a Pituophis that doesn't behave defensively at all when picked up? How'd you socialize the snake?

    Hyperion's usually pretty good, all I normally get is some rattling of the tail and he calms down right away once I've got him. After he bit me, though, he looked exactly like a rattlesnake.
  2. geckograndma

    geckograndma Well-Known Member

    I don't have a "tame" gopher snake, but they live all over out here. The calm ones don't rattle their tails...
  3. HERPies

    HERPies Elite Member

    Its a snake, they won't really enjoy it necessarily, but the way I tame boas, I touch them lightly in their cage every day or so if they are really aggressive, while I clean, or just because. Then start holding them for short periods of time to let them know you mean no harm. Don't let them decide though, you said you were pushing him, if you waited til he was ready, you would never be able to get him out! Its their natural defense to be left alone and feel like anything bigger is a threat. Just keep calm and it SHOULD calm down. (some snakes don't, just keep biting)
  4. missabrat

    missabrat Elite Member

    my 6ft Northern Pine is extremely cage aggressive, even more so when it comes to feeding or even when cleaning his cage, I have YET to take a bite from him, but I am waiting for the day when he does tag me!

    I spend time with him every week, but he never settles down, so I resign myself to observing him. He is a beautiful, curious guy who had not been handled in years by his previous owner who raised him from the time he was 2 months old.

    Some just don't settle down.
  5. YellowOctopus

    YellowOctopus Elite Member

    Thanks for the replies!

    I've never thought that he might enjoy being handled, I'm curious how much he'll tolerate and learning how I can calm him enough to handle him when he's being aggressive without getting tagged.

    This afternoon, once I got home, I was able to handle him just fine. He was active, alert and didn't rattle his tail, as is usual.


    See? Chill snake is chillin'.

    That was taken just 10 minutes ago. He's fine with being handled, I'm just curious if anyone has any suggestions for working with him so that I can handle him when he's being a mite more aggressive. Usually, I can pick him up if he's calm or rattling his tail, occasionally if he's puffed and hissed. Once I have him in my hands, he stops all aggressive displays and chills out. It's the continuing puffing and hissing that I'm wondering how to handle. It's very rare that he will display to that extent, but I'm just interested in how to handle him on the odd occasion that he is that aggressive.

    I usually have him out 5-6 times per week, and he's used to being handled. I think the difference is that usually he hides when I'm home, and my being there took him by surprise. I decided to try picking him up, which was, I think the stressor, as he was more vulnerable than he usually is when I pick him up from in the tank.

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  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    There is where you made your mistake. The snake is not yet comfortable with you and to be carried around while you are doing something else takes you attention from what the snake is doing. You may have inadvertently done something which startled him. My bullsnake has taken almost a year to stop rattling and blowing when I even so much as open the cage!
    For the time being, limit your handling to when you are able to sit down and be still and focus on him.
  7. HERPies

    HERPies Elite Member

    If its only when getting him out and he settles down when in your hand, just get a snake stick to get him out. I use that or wear a glove when I have defensive baby boas I need to move around. (I'm a baby when it comes to getting bit!)
  8. YellowOctopus

    YellowOctopus Elite Member

    I've actually never had a problem carrying him while doing something else. Once I have him, the worst I get is squirming and the occasional tail rattle even if I don't move- it's almost like he does it when he's bored, if I'm holding him. You know, if snakes could be bored.
  9. Notafrog

    Notafrog Active Member

    I know this thread is kinda old, but I wanted to comment.
    At my workplace we have a 6.5' Sonoran Gopher Snake that we handle at least 4 times a week for educational shows. He is out for anywhere from 15 mins to an hour at a time, petted by up to 50 people of all ages at a show and he is the sweetest snake ever! We walk around and are constantly moving, but he doesn't seem to mind. In the four years I have worked with him he has never rattled his tail, hissed, or bitten anyone. The only time I have seen him strike is at his reflection in a picture frame on the wall I was standing near. (freaked the **** out of me!)
    He is about ten years old, but he doesn't mind the attention at all. I think with the proper attention and respect, gopher snakes can calm down and be very fun snakes to handle! Although with the yearling I have, I can understand how frustrating it seems now. but I am sure Hyperion will get there.
    Hoping you the best!

  10. Hybrid

    Hybrid Well-Known Member

    A while ago I had a juvi WC bull. At first he would rattle and get in his striking position. She/he tamed down really fast. After the first couple weeks she was really tame and never hissed or rattled again. Unfortunately she escaped 2 weeks later after she began to tame down, never to be found.:(((

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